Just days before students are set to meet with the University of Maine System Investment Committee, University of Southern Maine President Theo Kalikow released a statement to the student newspaper supporting Divest UMaine.

Divest UMaine is a cross-campus student coalition, working to divest the pooled endowment of Maine’s seven public universities. On February 27, the students will meet with the Investment Committee, and ask them to send a resolution on fossil fuel divestment to the Board of Trustees.

Kalikow called on other University of Maine System presidents to also support the student initiative. Read the full statement below.

Statement from University of Southern Maine President Theo Kalikow:

The student group, Divest UMaine, will make a presentation to the University System’s Investment Committee on February 27, supporting divestiture of fossil fuel investments.

As president of the University of Maine Farmington and now at USM, I have not made a habit of attending Investment Committee meetings. However, last year I was there when they first discussed the possibility of fossil fuel divestment with their investment consultants. Clean energy and environmental responsibility have always been important to me. After all, how can we teach sound environmental practices in the classroom if we don’t follow through as an educational institution?

I encourage the Investment Committee to consider this issue seriously—because climate change is a risk that we must respond to, and because when students get this organised, it is our job to listen to them.

The Divest UMaine students make strong arguments in support of divestment. There are more fossil fuel free investment options available to use and new reports have emerged that demonstrate divestment from fossil fuel companies is a low-risk move.

I urge my fellow University of Maine System presidents to support this initiative. The Divest UMaine students are organised, and they have the best interest of the University System and the planet at heart. Their campaign for fossil fuel divestment deserves a good hearing and it is our responsibility to see that it has one.

—Theo Kalikow, President of the University of Southern Maine


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